GIA to hold release of synthetic diamond grading reports

The Gemological Institute of America will delay issuing synthetic diamond grading reports while it re-evaluates trade concerns, Donna Baker, GIA acting president, said during an exclusive interview with JCK.

Baker said that GIA made its decision after speaking with synthetic diamond and natural diamond manufacturers.

“GIA is going to continue the dialogue with individuals and companies on all sides of the synthetics question, the grading of synthetic diamonds. Opinions on this issue have been all over the place,” Baker said. “I think the reactions from different segments on all sides of this question were particularly strong.”

Ralph Destino, GIA chairman, on June 28 announced at the World Diamond Congress in Tel Aviv, that the GIA Gem Lab would be quality grading synthetic diamonds. Since the announcement, GIA has received criticism from all sides of the issue, Baker said.

The harshest critic has been Tom Chatham, the largest gem-quality synthetic diamond supplier in the U.S. In a letter to Baker and others in the industry, he said that if the proposed grading report doesn’t change, he will not have his diamonds graded by GIA.

“If this stands, Chatham will not use this service nor will any of the other producers send stones to the GIA for grading, in effect making this a worthless effort, one that could have benefited the institutes’ knowledge considerably,” he wrote.

He also told JCK, that he believes the grading report is designed to favor natural diamond manufacturers.

“All of this is a very obvious move by the diamond industry to stifle competition under the guise of protecting the public,” he said.

His biggest objection is the use of the word “synthetic” to describe lab-created gems.

“This is about the publics’ right to make an informed decision without bias, he told JCK. After all, wasn’t that the intension of Richard Liddicoat when he created the diamond grading system? He took out all the confusing language and made it a level playing field. Many don’t remember what his system replaced. Can you tell me what a “Top Wesselton” was? Most can’t. Consumers certainly couldn’t. This was trade language and the consumer did not have a clue. Same with the word ‘synthetic.'”

He continued, “Consumers do not have GIA diplomas. They understand products with common usage words. I want to make it perfectly clear this is not an attempt to champion “created” or “cultured,” that is not the responsibility of the GIA nor my objection in their actions. I applaud the GIA’s reasoning to include all diamonds in their grading system because it would benefit the consumers’ ability to compare and make an informed decision. Throwing up weasel words with ambiguous meanings would not. Using the term synthetic would add confusion in the public arena. Using the term “man-made” would not. Anyone who would insist on “synthetic” is not thinking of the public’s good will, only their own pocket books.”

Baker said GIA will evaluate all concerns.

“We will take a step back and we will consider carefully all of the views before going forward,” she said. “We’ll continue the dialogue so that no one is surprised”

However, how quickly GIA will respond is up in the air. Baker said no time line and no time frame have been established for this dialogue to end, and grading reports to be issued. This places the actual launching of the report on hold indefinitely.